Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro have been named by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as candidate cities to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
Qatar’s Doha, which was rated by the IOC’s working group as the third best overall bid, Azerbaijan’s Baku and the Czech capital Prague fell at the first hurdle.
“All the bids were of a very high standard,” said IOC President Jacques Rogge.
“It is a tribute to the health of the Olympic Movement that the field was so strong. I congratulate the candidate cities and I hope that those cities which were unsuccessful this time have benefited from the process.”
The candidate cities must now compile an in-depth file of their Olympic project and submit themselves to a visit by the IOC’s Evaluation Commission. The election of the host city will take place on Oct. 2 2009 at the IOC Session in Copenhagen.
“We greatly admire the Olympic movement’s values and see the 2016 Games as a golden opportunity to support a modern Madrid that is successful, dynamic and an inclusive place to live, work and play,” said Mercedes Coghen, the Madrid 2016 bid leader.
Tokyo, hosts of the 1964 Games, topped the IOC working group’s overall technical evaluation with Madrid second. Chicago and Doha tied for third with Rio in fourth place.
“We are very happy with the decision by the IOC,” Tokyo bid chief Ichiro Kono said.
“We are also delighted with the evaluation but we have not seen it yet and we must now analyse it very carefully to strengthen our weak points and make our strong points stronger.”
IOC executive board members, who picked the candidate cities, had been divided for weeks over whether Doha should have been included in the shortlist. Some argued that the city of about 500,000 was too small to deal with an event of such magnitude despite staging successful Asian Games in 2006.
Doha also planned to stage the Games in October instead of the usual summer months, due to the soaring heat in the desert state.
“The weather was the main reason we were left off the shortlist,” Doha bid official Aneesa Al Hitimi said.
“Qatar are the leaders in the Middle East and we would have staged 2016 perfectly. God willing, Qatar will make it in the future.”
An IOC official said the decision for the shortlist was unanimous among the 14 Executive Board members and Rogge, despite a 30-minute delay in the announcement that momentarily raised questions about whether there was a consensus.
The decision by the IOC sparked wild celebrations among Chicago bid officials gathered at a downtown Chicago office with their cheers drowning out the other shortlisted cities.